Elisabeth Moss The Handmaids Tale Performance Season 1

Performer of the Week: Elisabeth Moss

THE PERFORMER | Elisabeth Moss

THE SHOW | The Handmaid’s Tale

THE EPISODE |A Woman’s Place (May 17)

THE PERFORMANCE | Moss has been so consistently amazing in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, we were starting to fear that it would be tough to single out a particular scene or episode that would highlight her greatness. (Because she was clearly, at some point, going to wind up our Performer of the Week.)

However, Wednesday’s episode made that worry evaporate. When Offred was presented with a second chance to alert a visiting dignitary about the reality of being a handmaid in Gilead, Moss’ performance was like a master class in conveying unspoken emotion. The feelings that washed across her face as Offred debated whether or not to speak up were palpable; the matter-of-fact tone Moss used during Offred’s recitation of abuse telegraphed a woman who, against her better judgment, has become used to the violence perpetrated against her.

But even Offred can only take so much, and when she began speaking about her kidnapped daughter, Moss made the character start to break, just a little. “Please do something,” she whispered, letting Offred’s held-back tears finally fall. But when the Mexican ambassador refused to help Gilead’ sex slaves, Moss used the depth of Offred’s sadness to add weight and edge to her anger, shaming the powerful woman for a moment before once more succumbing to despair. The shades of terror and disbelief that the actress brought into her voice as she reminded the diplomat, “We’re human beings. How can you do that?” were so affecting, they’ve haunted us all week. And when Moss then quickly had to pivot to confused, shaky hope when the possibility of her presumed-dead husband’s survival was dangled? That sound you just heard was Moss’ 2017 Emmy buzz hitting a fever pitch.

HONORABLE MENTION | The brief moments that Alex Parrish appeared to be hovering near death in Quantico‘s season finale certainly weren’t fun for her longtime love Ryan, but man, did they give Jake McLaughlin some good stuff to play. McLaughlin’s Ryan Booth is an unflappable soldier; as such, the actor is nearly never given the chance to show us what his character is like during a complete and total freak-out. But after Alex’s shooting in Monday’s episode, McLaughlin allowed Ryan to shed his stalwart façade and, huddling over her body, give in to his grief over the idea of his lady succumbing to her injuries. Our favorite part? When the gang informed Ryan that it was all a ruse — sold by his authentic reaction — and McLaughlin had Ryan cover his face and take a moment to sob in giddy relief before carrying on with the mission at hand.

Supergirl Cat Grant ReturnsHONORABLE MENTION | Calista Flockhart wasn’t just a breath of fresh air on this week’s episode of Supergirl — she was like a hurricane, one that naturally blew everything back into place. From that heartbreaking speech to Kara about the importance of love, to the inspirational speech for the desperate people of National City, Flockhart owned every millisecond of Cat Grant’s screen time. Despite a season-long absence, Flockhart didn’t miss a beat; it was as if she never left, a dream for all Supergirl fans. Just as Cat is able to bring out the best in the show’s characters, Flockhart’s presence clearly inspires the stars to elevate their own performances just to keep up. (Seriously, what kind of a deal with the TV Devil do we need to make in order to get her back full-time in Season 3?)

Grey's Anatomy FinaleHONORABLE MENTION | Before revealing to Nathan in the Season 13 finale of Grey’s Anatomy that lost love Megan had been found alive, Meredith made sure that, given all the smoke he’d inhaled, he could breathe. But really, somebody should have also checked on viewers. Martin Henderson played Riggs’ reaction to the news with such a powerful mixture of confusion, hope and, above all, vulnerability that when, in disbelief, he told Grey, “That’s not funny,” we nearly choked on the words he was saying. Later, when the reality of the situation had sunk in, the actor so completely wrapped himself up in Nathan’s joy that, like the character, we forgot for a second that he was expressing that excitement to — and embracing! — his new girlfriend. So, though it might have been Grey Sloan that went up in flames, it was definitely Henderson that was on fire.

Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Cate says:

    Calista! She was just awesome at delivering those zingers. Praying we get more Cat Grant in S3

    • GregJ. says:

      I’m surprised momma Pope wasn’t mentioned. Her black women monolgue was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard and a lot of that has to do with the delivery. She was amazing. I’m crossing my fingers she comes back for the last season.

  2. Joey Padron says:

    Great that Elisabeth got performer of the week. Happy Calista got honorable mention, it’s great to have her back on the show. Hope she comes back for a couple of episodes in Season 3!

  3. Elisabeth and Martin were both great! As was Jensen Ackles, who delivered an amazing performance during the scene where Dean tried to get through to Mary.

  4. Spence says:

    Great choice! Elisabeth is amazing episode after episode, but in this week’s episode she really showed off the emotional ringer and was so believable!

  5. SassyAF28 says:

    No love for Candice Patton, Grant Gustin or even Jesse L. Martin on The Flash?

  6. Staci says:

    My personal favorites this week were Henry Simmons from SHIELD and Jerrika Hinton from Grey’s.

  7. dan says:

    Performers from Quantico and Supergirl get honorable mentions in the same week? Have the polar ice caps melted? Seriously, it was great to have Calista back on Supergirl and she did a great job as Cat. However, I’m having a hard time understanding an honorable mention for the model who plays Ryan just because he can cry convincingly on camera. Otherwise he is as wooden an actor as they come (but he looks good in a Henley).

  8. Jensen Ackles was just as fantastic!

  9. kirads09 says:

    My POTW – Christopher Eccleston – The Leftovers

  10. Jane Q. Doe says:

    Absolutely agree with the HM for Calista – she showed why Cat Grant has been so dearly missed this season. She’s a rock star, and the cast is clearly enlivened by having her around. We know The Flockhart-Fords aren’t moving to Canada, so the likelihood of her being a full-time presence again is remote for Season 3, but here’s hoping the CW is smart enough not to kill Cat off and keep this all-star around for special visits in the Supergirl world!

  11. Dominique says:

    completely agree with martin henderson, it was such a small scene compared to everything else that was happening in the episode, but it was very memorable. you could see every emotion in his expressions and his “that’s not funny” killed me. (an dhe did it twice!). very excited to see how he will play this next season.
    calista was just such a joy, loved seeing her on my screen again. i know she won’t leave LA to film an entire season of supergirl but man do i wish she could become a series regular again. supergirl needs cat grant. and so do we.

  12. Stephane says:

    Jerrika Hinton or Chandra Wilson would have been a better choice from Grey’s Anatomy!

  13. PLFitzDC says:

    Glad you noted Martin Henderson, who was amazing in that scene. But I really expected some love for Jerrika Hinton, too, who really made me mourn her farewell to the show.

  14. Roo says:

    How about Jerrika Hinton performance as Stephanie on Grey’s..her send off episode was outstanding! Agree Martin’s was believable.

  15. Lysh says:

    Yess, Lizzie Moss! I nearly cried when June was spilling tea to the woman. Definitely the episode I would submit to the Emmys consideration. I’m glad Hulu only does one episode a week – binging the first three episodes gave me nightmares.
    And seriously, the CW needs to give Calista her own private jet from LA to VanCity and whatever else she asks for. She was so great to have back on Supergirl. (I hope she doesn’t die.)

  16. S K says:

    The “deal with the TV Devil” [hey, wait, wouldn’t that be Tubey?] you would have to make would be to get the show back to film in L.A., which I believe Ms. Folckhart cited as a major reason for leaving regular status (though, I’m guessing there may have been pay reduction issues when the show moved to the CW. I think there’s a *lot* of stuff fans don’t hear about). That would create a serious problem with the whole CW-crossover-framework that’s been set up. Is that a deal you’re sure you want to make?

    • S K says:


      Apologies for the typo.

    • Jane Q. Doe says:

      I think you’re correct in that only moving the show (or figuring how to pre-film her parts or use other technology) back would get Calista to be a regular again. She’s always been explicit on not working away from home, and I’m thinking the move probably triggered an ‘out’ clause in her contract – which presumably the other actors didn’t have or didn’t want to exercise.

      And to get Cat Grant back full-time? I’d definitely give up the rest of the Arrow-verse. 1-2 special eps a year aren’t worth what losing her (IMHO) cost the show.

  17. Phun says:

    So happy Calista did make it back for Supergirl! She has proven once again that Cat Grant is still queen! I do hope TPTB get her for more episodes in season 3!

  18. David Hambly says:

    Guest star Irina Dubova portrayed an elderly russian woman living in America who had been a secret collaborater with the Nazi’s who killed russian POW’s. she gave a chilling performance

  19. Kat says:

    Martin Henderson blew me away. Thank you (and him)

  20. I forgot about that! Oh well :/

  21. MiaB says:

    Grant Gustin and Candice Patton also were both terrific on The Flash this week.

  22. Mary says:

    Jerrika should have gotten it. She was amazing the whole episode.

  23. Anna says:

    Yvonne Strahovski blasted my freaking socks off this week in Handmaid’s Tale! I may be a bit biased because she’s my favorite actress, but I think she’s taken the role of Serena Joy and ran with it.

  24. pblo78 says:

    Wish Calista were nominated for an emmy as guest drama actress, but we know that will never happen cause it is a CW show

  25. nawshin says:

    martin was great. I want him back with ellen…they are great.

  26. Longmire4ever says:

    Calista is the sole reason I watched season 1 of Supergirl. I stopped watching as soon as she left. I am not surprised she was named as actor of th week. Calista is an amazing actress and elevates any show that she is in. It is 2017, why can’t they film a lot of her scenes at once or figure out something.

    Get rid of the of the kids in Arrow to pay for it! You have ruined my favorite show with these idiotic additions. Oliver, Felicilty, and Diggle are the only team members needed. I call this season The Adventure in Babysitting and it has not been fun!,,,

  27. I’m sorry did you not see the same episode of The Americans I did this past week? Because I WAS IN TEARS at the end. And not even because of a main character!